(Photos: Dan Liu)
It’s easy to wax poetic about the Pacific Northwest’s natural beauty, although some (including yours truly) have a more difficult time with the poetic part. Take Cycle Wild founder Matt Picio, for instance:
is the basic idea behind
“What I love most is the combination of the scenery and to be able to experience it fully: feeling the wind in your face, feeling the sun, and being able to actually see what you’re riding past, things that you don’t get to see when you’re traveling 45mph.”
Ok, not exactly poetry, but for people that have an inkling about what bike touring or bike camping are, you get the idea. And, if you are at all curious about what it’d be like to go on a nice, long bike ride into the wilderness, then Cycle Wild is here to help.
Picio founded the non-profit Cycle Wild last year as a way to help people connect with nature without having to hop into their cars. “I got the idea, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to go out camping, and replace the SUV or RV with a bike?’”
Cycle Wild organizes and helps others organize camping rides within easy reach, what Picio calls a “rideshed.”
says there are 300 campgrounds
within Portland’s rideshed.
“A rideshed is basically the distance you can ride on a loaded bike on a summer day,” says Picio, “It’s approximately 80-90 miles, but our range is greatly extended by the MAX [light rail]. There are over 300 campgrounds within the Portland rideshed.”
Picio started Cycle Wild knowing there are a lot of people interested in bike camping, but that they needed a bit of extra encouragement and some guidance in order to get started. The point is to make the rides as accessible as possible to newcomers who want to learn more about biking, nature, and biking in nature.
“A rideshed is basically the distance you can ride on a loaded bike on a summer day. It’s approximately 80-90 miles, but our range is greatly extended by the MAX [light rail]. There are over 300 campgrounds within the Portland rideshed.”
— Matt Picio, Cycle Wild founder
Earlier this month, 13 Portlanders joined the Cycle Wild trip to Bagby Hot Springs. They rode out from the Cleveland Ave. MAX station in Gresham, down south through Boring and Estacada, up the Clackamas River and the side of Mt. Hood to the campsite. I tagged along for part of the trip, and although everyone had been on a Cycle Wild ride before, and knew each other from past trips, I quickly felt welcome.
“Usually, our capacity [as guides for the trips] is to look after the group, provide basic mechanical assistance, do sweeps for people that might have fallen behind, and make sure the slower or newer riders are doing OK,” said Cycle Wild’s Tomas Quiñones.
In addition to leading rides, Cycle Wild has also become a great resource for information. Not only have they published guides and led Pedalpalooza workshops on bike camping basics (the workshop this year is on June 17th), but they have produced a whole series of maps on Bikely.com. Picio and the other Cycle Wild directors are also working to establish hiker-biker campsites in parks that currently lack them, such as Barton Park in Clackamas County.
Eventually, Cycle Wild hopes to have volunteer instructors come along on rides, to teach riders about plant and animal identification, wilderness skills, route planning and navigation.
Cycle Wild’s next trip is up to Beacon Rock State Park, on the Washington side of the Bonneville Dam. You can browse Cycle Wild’s ride calendar, check out their guides to bike camping, and find out more about the group at their website, CycleWild.org.